Based on the very popular 1930’s radio character, original comic books, and several pulp novels, The Shadow stars Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston, the crime fighter “who learned in the Orient the power to cloud men’s minds so they cannot see him.” Once a ruthless drug lord, he’s been trained by Tibetan holy man named Tulku to harness his incredible mental powers. Returning to New York City, Cranston is determined to atone for his crimes under his secret identity, The Shadow.

While the thugs and mobsters that roam the city don’t offer a real threat to The Shadow, danger arrives in the form of Shiwan Khan (John Lone). The last descendant of Genghis, and Cranston’s psychic equal, Khan is obsessed with conquering the land his ancestor couldn’t. As part of his plan, Khan ransacks the United States’ scientific laboratories, where he finds a pair of brilliant of scientists (played by Ian McKellen and Tim Curry) and sets to work building an atomic bomb. Unfortunately for Cranston, not only is he having problems locating Khan’s hideout, but his identity has been uncovered by Margo Lane (Penelope Ann Miller), daughter of one of Khan’s captured scientists.

Directed by music video veteran Russell Mulcahy, he gives the film a flashy look inspired by 1980’s MTV videos; cartoon coloring and noir shadowing are used in abundance. At the same time, he mixes in a few distinct touches that make it clear that events are taking place in an alternate decade. One of the main criticisms of The Shadow when it was released in 1994 was that it was more style over substance. Looking back, the ambitious styling is one of the best aspects of the film.

Baldwin is very good in the lead role. He has the ‘dashing’ good looks superheroes of the era possessed.  He also brings a much needed intensity to the character. Back in the early 1990’s, I remember thinking that Alec Baldwin would have made a great Batman, and watching The Shadow only makes me wish that had come to pass.

The Shadow was a box office disappointment, and it’s admittedly an acquired taste. Scripted by David Koepp, the deliciously corny dialogue, and the general campiness of all the characters is part of the fun. If you’re looking for a serious, down the line interpretation of The Shadow, this is likely not the film for you. If you like your superhero movies over the top, give this one a spin.

Framed at 1.78, Shout! has provided a decent 1080p transfer. While the image can’t be called flawless, it certainly is strong. Detail is quite impressive, and colors are reproduced very well. The verdant set design and sharp costuming really stands out. Skin tones look fairly natural throughout, and while some minor print damage can be spotted—a few white specks, here and there—it never interferes with the viewing process.

English language audio options are provided in DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Master Audio tracks with optional closed captioning available in English. The 5.1 track does a solid job, offering up nice channel separation in the front, and involving the rear channels frequently to add in effects and score. Properly balanced, the mix presents no obvious problems. Dialogue is clear throughout, and the effects have enough punch behind them to be convincing. There are no distortion issues to speak of.

English subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Looking Back at The Shadow (HD, 23:44) a fun, featurette offering new interviews with Russell Mulcahy, Alec Baldwin, David Koepp, and Penelope Ann Miller, among others.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:57)
  • Photo Gallery (HD, 8:17)